Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Immigration Corner | Can I work in Canada without a work permit?

Published:Tuesday | September 28, 2021 | 12:10 AM

Dear Miss Powell,

Can someone work in Canada without a work permit? I hear of so many people with a visitor’s visa that go there and work. Can you tell me what types of job you can get without a work permit?

– A.A.

Dear A.A.,

You must have a work permit to work in Canada. If you work in Canada after you enter as a visitor, without authorisation to do so, you run the risk of being deported and barred from re-entering. Additionally, the employer who breach this rule could face serious penalties.

There are only a few circumstances that the government of Canada has permitted individuals to work without the need to apply for separate work permit. These types of jobs are exempted from work permit.


Some positions may not require a work permit when the employment is short term and must be on the list of exempted work. Students are exempted from seeking a separate work permit to work on or off campus. They do not need a separate work permit to work up to 20 hours per week or full-time during the holidays. In some cases, where students have completed their studies and have applied for a postgraduate work permit, they may be allowed to continue working, pending the outcome of their application.

Work permit exemptions are only permitted where the job will not negatively affect the Canadian labour market. Some examples of these jobs include business visitors, clergy, foreign diplomats, touring musicians, healthcare students and emergency providers.

Additionally, other workers must be on the exempted list, such as athlete or coach, aviation accident or incident investigator, civil aviation inspector, convention organiser, crew member, emergency service provider, examiner and evaluator, expert witness or investigator, family member of foreign representative, foreign government officer or representative, judge, referee or similar official, religious workers, military personnel, news reporter or film and media crew, producer or staff member working on advertisements, performing artist, public speaker.

There are some jobs that may be exempted under the International Mobility Programme or the Global Skills Strategy. These jobs are usually for a short term and permitted for highly skilled workers and researchers.


Under the Global Skills category, the jobs usually fall under the type O or A skill level under the National Occupation Classification. These jobs include executives, managerial or professional jobs. The job must be prearranged, and individuals will be permitted to work up to 15 consecutive days, once every six months, or up to 30 consecutive days, once every 12 months.

For researchers, they must perform the research at a publicly funded Canadian institution or its affiliate, and it must be authorised to grant a degree. For these individuals, they will be permitted to work for a maximum of 120 days in Canada, once every 12 months.

If the job you are thinking of is not prearranged or preapproved, then you will need to apply for a work permit to work in Canada. If you are a visitor in Canada and you would like a work permit, you need to apply to extend your stay as a worker. Your prospective employer is usually required to provide a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment report for your application to be successful.

I recommend that you contact a lawyer to assist you with your application or visit the government’s website for additional information. The key to remember is that visitor’s visa and work permit are temporary permits to enter Canada for a short period of time. There are limits to each permit and you should avoid running afoul of them.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, commercial, family, and administration of estates. Submit your questions and comments via Tel: 613-695-8777. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.